Mint United States

Traditionally, most collectors of United States stamps have collected in a similar fashion. They collected the stamps after 1930 mint and in Very Fine NH condition. From 1900-1930 they collected mint as well but usually were content with hinged stamps and often lesser centering as well. Nineteenth Century was largely collected used by the vast majority of collectors. Collectors who collected this way were responding to two realities of US philately. First, prices for perfect mint stamps are reasonable in the modern period when most of the stocks of stamps are in perfect condition. But as collectors reach the earlier periods, the premium for perfect quality and gum begins to rise to levels that most collectors can’t afford. Rather than quit collecting they compromise on quality. And second, even if money were not a concern, the quantity of perfect stamps in the earlier periods is very small. Collectors are like most consumers-they are accustomed to instant gratification and don’t want to wait to fill spaces in their albums. If they have the money to buy something they can’t understand why it isn’t available.

In the last twenty years this way of collecting has been modified. As the number of modern new issues has increased at the rate of over 150 per year and the cost of collecting more modern US eats up larger and larger budgets (and time), the numbers of collectors going back to fill the Nineteenth Century sections of their albums has decreased. Prices of mint Nineteenth Century US stamps haven’t declined over the last twenty years. But by not increasing they have, in fact, declined in real value in terms of what they cost collectors as a percentage of collector income. As this has happened, more of those collectors who have gone in for collecting Nineteenth Century US have started to collect mint in this earlier period where collectors had usually sought out used. The pattern and popularity of mint US in this period has definitely changed to where we see more collectors seeking mint. This transition in relative popularity of Nineteenth Century mint versus used is something that has happened before and probably will happen again.

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